The Frida Archetype

“I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.”-Frida Kahlo


Throughout the past several years the world has seen an increase of Frida Kahlo paraphernalia. This has been more than the Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, or Marilyn Monroe images that you see in the stores or on people’s walls.  Why is this?

Frida has shifted from being an ordinary person to becoming an archetype.  Her image stands for individuality, strength in diversity and color, beauty in authenticity, acceptance, power, and all encompassing woman-hood.  In addition to the touring exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s clothing, artwork, photography and belongings that has travelled from Mexico City to London and New York, there are works of art being created about her.  While in South Florida last week, an opera entitled Frida was being shown at the Broward Center of the Performing Arts.  In London, the English National Ballet is offering a piece entitled She Persisted, based on Frida.

Frida is famous for saying that she is her own muse, but over time she has become muses for numerous others.  Clothing, pillow cases, canvas bags, ballet pieces, opera, and in our own homes and offices.  I recently went into a medical staff member’s office on a military base.  This active duty member’s wall was lined with a Frida Kahlo fabric over her window.  Kahlo is contagious and is everywhere.

The image of Frida means something to us.  We find we can harness our own power by observing how she conquered adversity in her life.  Throughout the tragedies that befell upon her such as miscarriages, infidelity, and numerous physical horrendous medical ailments, she prevailed.  She did not overcome one struggle after another quietly, she immersed herself by telling her story through her art work.  Her art was fueled by her strife.  Some of her work sends pain to our wombs solely by looking at it, without knowing the whole story.  Despite this, she did not wallow in misery.

When many of us are feeling down and self-loathing, we may opt to decrease care for ourselves. We wear frumpy clothes, no make-up, dark and muted colors to portray our moods.  In times of joy or strife, Frida turned up the diva dial, and beautified herself.  She graced her body with beautiful jewelry, her hair with bold bright flowers, flowing petticoats and traditional Mexican attire.  Even during the later years, when she was confined to staying home due to her medical illness, she still got dressed up. The medical corsets she was prescribed to wear by her doctors, were exemplified with artwork.  The shoes that she wore were beautiful and fabulous, even if it covered her one amputated leg.

The Victoria And Albert Museum labeled their recent exhibit of this artist as “Making Herself Up.”  And she did, and it was not for anyone else. The act of dolling up was for herself.   If I was going to use spiritual lingo for this, she cherished and honored herself by adorning the divine within.  She made herself up as a goddess to be revered, if only for her own pleasure and enjoyment.   Now in some ways she is worshipped as a goddess by others worldwide, decades after her death.

When we observe someone, who takes pride and solace in adorning themselves in the midst of pain, we know they are aligning with the highest part of themselves…the divine feminine. The divine within lifts us to emerge onto the other side stronger, wiser, and with more grace.  We turn to Frida, as she is a reminder that this is a possibility for us.  We too are capable of finding beauty, art, and dignity in the midst of whatever is arising in our everyday lives.

Therefore, the next time you see a Frida image, tell yourself that she is not just a symbol of an artist, feminist, or fashion icon.  She is an archetype of a strong female warrior.  Frida serves as a reminder of the divine feminine that exists within.  It’s available to you, all it takes is work to honor and adorn your own external temple in joy and sorrow.  Make yourself up.  You are worth it.

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” – Frida Kahlo


Florida Grand Ballet


English National Ballet

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